On the occasion of the jubilee of 800 years of the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church and 1500 years of the existence of the monastery of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Podlastva, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia officiated the Holy hierarchal Liturgy on September 28, 2019, and consecrated the chapel of the Holy Martyr Prince Lazarus of Serbia and monastery of that ancient Christian shrine.
Archbishop of Cetinje and Metropolitan of Montenegro –Littoral Amfilohije, Bishops Athanasije of Mileseva, Joanikije of Budimlje-Niksic, Teodosije of Raška-Prizren, Joakim of Polog-Kumanovo, Sergije of Bihac-Pwtrovac, Metodije of Diocleia, Bishop Atanasije of Zaholm-Hercegovina (who has retired), as well as many clergymen and moans, concelebrated the liturgy, in the presence of thousands of believers.
“This is a great day in our history. A great day before God and all our glorious ancestors who lived in these areas where you and we live today, and in other areas of our sacred land of Serbia and other Serbian lands. We are here today in great numbers, and what a blessing it would be if we would celebrate all our great feasts by glorifying God and looking into the face of each of us as the face of our physical brother, as born in likeness and image of God, because every man is an icon of God, ” Patriarch Serbian Irinej said and added:
“ Many want to see the One who created this world, but let’s just look at each other and shall see the likeness of God. In each of us the Lord has implanted His icon and character, not only in us Orthodox, but in every human being. All humans are creatures of God, regardless of skin color, nation, culture, and a degree of cultural education. We are all children of God, created by His own hands.
Today is a glorious day, blessed by God. Eight centuries ago our Church received significant recognition, a major role among the local Churches – it became autocephalous, equal to all other great Orthodox Churches, such as the Churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople … This great deed was accomplished by Saint Sava, the greatest figure in our history and in the Serbian Orthodox Church.”
“The will of God was that Saint Sava had a wise father, Saint Simeon – Nemanja,” said the Patriarch, expressing his deep belief that Sava’s departure to Mount Athos gave us in him a great spiritual man of wisdom, a great personality of our history. The Patriarch emphasized that Sava and his father Nemanja had known that without an independent Church there could be no independent state, and that they had laid a foundation on which our Church and state exist still today:
“It is a historical fact that the autocephality of our Church made an autocephalous state as well. Thanks to that gift of God, we were able to survive the terrible Middle Ages under Turkish slavery, that lasted several hundred years. If the Church had not accepted the role of the state when the state disappeared, we would not exist today.“
The Patriarch reminded that “we have experienced and have been experiencing great temptations, and many who have feared of our power and role and glory in history have endeavoured to fulfil the old Roman rule: Divide and rule”.
“Unfortunately, we have succumbed to this temptation in our time, as we have allowed others to divide us and separate us from each other, and hence we have been experiencing great temptations today. However, since we have a spiritual foundation, we have an abundant grace of God as well, because today, when we are gathered here, brothers and sisters, many God-pleasing personalities of our origin are standing before God’s throne, mediating for us, and consequently, they will never leave us,” the Patriarch underlined.
The Patriarch gave advice that we should preserve what is essential in our history, in our Church and culture. It is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is power, it is might, it is a strength. The Lord established the Church and rewarded the Holy Apostles with the greatest gifts, the divine blessings, who, as illiterate people, founded the Church of Christ, which has since existed and continues to play an apostolic role both in our people and in the whole world.”
The Patriarch called upon the Serbian people not to abandon their hearths, because, in foreign countries, many people may lose their identity, their faith, and, say, after ten years they forget who they belong to:
“The Lord will not allow us to disappear from the face of the earth. Everything we need has been given to us. That is why I call upon all you present, and I hope that this appeal concerns our country and fatherland, but also the countries where our people live: Let us not leave our blessed land, for its greatest sons contributed to its success and progress, laid the foundations that are not temporal. Let’s not leave our homeland. Our culture and history stand on solid foundations that do not change from today to tomorrow,” concluded Patriarch Irinej.
Source: Patriarchate of Serbia